GETTING TO HAPPY

Terry McMillan

The remarkable heroines of Terry McMillan’s unforgettable novel are back—and are at a crossroads that will define their future. All four are learning to heal past hurts, and are more determined than ever to reclaim their lives and dreams. They’ve exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she’s made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again-at fifty-one. Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two,

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The remarkable heroines of Terry McMillan’s unforgettable novel are back—and are at a crossroads that will define their future. All four are learning to heal past hurts, and are more determined than ever to reclaim their lives and dreams. They’ve exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

Now, McMillan revisits Savannah, Gloria, Bernadine, and Robin fifteen years later. Each is at her own midlife crossroads: Savannah has awakened to the fact that she’s made too many concessions in her marriage, and decides to face life single again-at fifty-one. Bernadine has watched her megadivorce settlement dwindle, been swindled by her husband number two, and conned herself into thinking that a few pills will help distract her from her pain. Robin has an all-American case of shopaholism, while the big dream of her life-to wear a wedding dress- has gone unrealized. And for years, Gloria has taken happiness and security for granted. But being at the wrong place at the wrong time can change everything. All four are learning to heal past hurts and to reclaim their joy and their dreams; but they return to us full of spirit, sass, and faith in one another. They’ve exhaled: now they are learning to breathe.

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  • NAL
  • Paperback
  • June 2011
  • 416 Pages
  • 9780451233349

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About Terry McMillan

Terry McMillan is the critically acclaimed, award-winning author of the novels Mama, Disappearing Acts, Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, A Day Late and a Dollar Short, and Getting to Happy, and the editor of Breaking Ice: An Anthology of Contemporary African-American Fiction. She lives in northern California with her family.

Praise

Getting to Happy again hits a chord that will resonate with readers…Once again I felt these women could step out of the book’s pages and into my own circle of friends.”
—Chicago Sun-Times

 

Getting to Happy is pretty much required reading for anyone who cared about Waiting to Exhale…we’re pretty lucky that [McMillan] returned to these old friends.”—Miami Herald

 

Discussion Questions

Did you read Waiting to Exhale? If so, does this novel follow the arc that you imagined for these characters? If you haven’t read McMillan’s earlier novel, do you plan to now?

 

Do you have a core group of friends like those in Getting to Happy? What role do your friends play in your life? What do you contribute to their lives?

 

Which character is most like you? Which character reminded you of one of your friends?

 

Savannah urges the friends to give each other blunt, honest advice, saying, “Sometimes we need somebody to just tell us what to do even though we already know it” (p. 249). What advice would you give yourself?

 

Reread the epigraphs at the beginning of the book. What do they mean? How do they reflect the events in each character’s life?

 

Savannah asks Jasper, “How do you measure happiness?” (p. 303). What did you think of his and her responses? What does happiness mean to the other characters in the novel? How do you measure happiness?

 

How have you changed over the past fifteen years? Where do you hope to be in the next fifteen years? What are you currently doing to achieve those goals?

 

Getting to Happy is written from alternating points of view. In what ways is each woman’s voice unique? How did getting the other characters’ perspectives enhance your understanding of each woman?

 

Which character’’s situation did you most sympathize with? Whose behavior did you find most frustrating? Whose storyline did you find most satisfying? Consider both the major and minor characters.

 

Onika, Sparrow, and Taylor are as interesting and well defined as Savannah, Bernadine, Robin, and Gloria. Compare and contrast these three young women. What do they contribute to the novel?

 

Choose your favorite character and discuss how you imagine her life will change after another fifteen years.